Monday, September 19, 2011

Music tHERapy

When I was a freshman in high school my older sister, Brett, started studying Music Therapy at FSU.  One weekend Mom and I went to visit her, and she took me with her to the recital of a Senior music student's.  I had been struggling with a bout of Tourette's Syndrome at that time.  Tourette's is a neurological disorder that, for me, causes me to have facial twitches whenever I'm stressed or anxious. Around that time I was still struggling with my parent's divorce, hated high school so far, and missed all my siblings (especially Brett) who had left me alone in the house(es) for various reasons. I was twitching so badly that Brett had to help me walk-- I couldn't even see in front of me.

On the way to the recital Brett tried to explain to me what music therapy even was.  Call me slow, but I just didn't understand what she was doing.  At the recital, though, the Senior student sang a beautiful song to the accompaniment of another student's piano playing, and I was completely entranced.  I shifted closer in my seat, and couldn't even blink. Without realizing it, my twitches had completely vanished while I listened.  My whole body calmed down. Brett leaned over to me and said, "That's music therapy."

Music has been really important to me since then.  I can't listen to any song without thinking about the lyrics and if or how they could apply to me.  I've always loved that lyrics and, in the best cases, the accompaniment, too, express something I never could.  Feelings I have but can't explain, things I want or need to hear but don't know how to ask for, etc.

In coping with the loss of my baby three songs have really helped me, for various reasons:

1. In My Life, Dave Matthews

This song reminded me of our daughter long before she was born for the line, "In my life I love you more." But it also seemed really sad to me, so I hesitated putting it on her Baby CD.  When we learned that she had passed and we would have a burial for her I knew this song was perfect.  I suppose it was an early revelation.  Now I love it for the line, "I'll never lose affection...."

2. You'll Be In My Heart: Phil Collins

This song has meant a lot to me since Middle School.  I was being teased by some classmates, and knelt in prayer for comfort.  As soon as my prayer ended, this song came on the Light radio station.  I felt like it was Heavenly Father's way of answering my prayer and telling me how much He loved me.  The song still means a lot to me, and now I think of it as my anthem to Eleanor, as well. I love you, Little Girl! And Heavenly Father loves us both very much :)

"When destiny calls you, you must be strong. I may not be with you, but you've got to hold on." 

3. Be Here Now by Mason Jennings.

This has been the ultimate in healing music for me.  This song is in my top 10 favorite songs of all time-- which is really saying a lot! We added it to a CD we made when we were getting sealed of love songs.  I have felt so much love for Ben through all of this, and focusing on our relationship and our blessings has really helped me cope. I am so grateful to still have him in my life! I listened to our marriage CD a few days ago, and heard this one for the first time in a little while.  I played it repeatedly for about 45 mins.

I always have had a hard time "Being here now." I seem to always look to the future, but this experience is really helping me see that we have to appreciate every tiny blessing in every ordinary day.  I am so in love with my husband, so grateful for the Gospel, so proud of my daughter, and truly happy to be who and where I am.

"Be here now. No other place to be. Don't just sit there dreaming of how life would be if we were somewhere better, somewhere far, away from all our worries, well here we are...

Be here now.  No other place to be. All the doubts that linger, just set them free.  And let good things happen. Let the future come. Into each moment like a rising sun.

Sun comes up and we start again..." 

Thank you, Mason Jennings, for helping me realize that life moves on.  Just because I accept that and try to move on doesn't mean that the love I have for our daughter ever has to change.  I can do both-- love her and be sad, and look forward to tomorrow with complete hope and acceptance that some things I have no affect over, but I still make the choice to be happy :)

And, honestly, I'm feeling better.  


  1. I love Mason Jennings, and I am a strong believer in music therapy. Thank you so much for sharing this. I am so amazed by your strength and your example.

  2. Thank you for the Mason Jennings, I've never heard of him before.

    Have you tried A Thousand Oceans by Tori Amos? It's been my anthem all year long...

  3. Beautiful songs, Susannah. I'm glad you are doing better, by however much. You're amazing.

  4. love the words to be here now! Great to try to live that way...I'm still trying at 61!!

  5. Yes, I'm reading your blog. No, I'm not caught up on mine. See - I make exceptions for you! Love you so much. Feel free to call me at any time of night. Seriously.


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